Chapter 6:On A Wild Hunt Note:Four Years Later

4 years later...

Four years had gone by since the day Onamara left home. She’d walked that day until her feet were swollen and raw. She’d walked until she’d reached the outskirts of her small hometown in Cali. There is where she’d found the small train station, and with the only money she’d brought with her totaling a mere $55, she’d purchased a ticket to the next town over. For days, she hitch hiked and walked until finally she’d arrived at her destination.

Pastures and cows…Sunset Valley was nothing more than that.

All Nastasia had to go by were the pages in the Memory Book (which she toted around with her in her book sack), and some very random photos her mother had slipped between some of the pages, though they meant nothing to Onamara.

Once she’d arrived in Sunset Valley, Onamara hadn’t known where to begin. She’d found a safe haven where she received daily warm meals and a place to rest her head. This haven of hers happened to be with a lovely old couple that had their own ranch with acres and acres of land, and Onamara repaid them for their kindness by volunteering to help out with the daily tasks of cleaning out chicken coops, milking cows, and pulling weeds from the small garden.

Onamara had never guessed that it would take such a long period of time to finally know where to begin her search for a relative, but in four years time-after much inquiring around the town-Onamara finally got word one day from a doctor that claimed he’d gone to college with her mother.

The word got to Onamara through the elderly couple she’d set up her lodgings with one hot and sticky summer day.

Onamara had been mucking the stalls, sweat beading from her upper lip and running down the length of her tan, exposed arms. The old woman, Dorie, had entered through the wooden swinging doors with her husband, Mr. Christens, at her heels.

“Now Dorie, don’t you go and upset that poor, dear girl! I’m tellin’ ya, we don’t know that man from Adam and that’s a mighty big claim he done taken ‘pon hisself, sayin’ he’s got all that there knowledge.”

Onamara smiled. Mr. and Mrs. Christens were very funny together and never ceased to amuse her.

“Shh, now, I knows what I’s doin’. Just shh!”, hissed out Dorie.

“What’s going on?”, Onamara asked as she leaned against the wall facing the elderly couple.

“I just done had a visitor, Onamara,”said Dorie,”and this here visitor tells me he once a ‘pon a time knew yer Ma.Says they went ta college togetha.”

Onamara’s eyes grew larger in surprise.

“Wow, Mrs. Christens”-

“I done told ya, call me Dorie!”

“I mean, Dorie. That’s..tremendous news!”

“Ain’t it, now?”, replied Mrs. Christens with a wide grin on her face.

Mr. Christens chuckled but said,”I told Dorie nots to tell ya like that-like she be believin’ it. Could be some kindsa prank, seein’ how folks ‘rond here knows how bad ya been wantin’ ter find someone kin to yer Mama.”

Dorie turned to chastise her husband. “Ain’t like there’s some kinda rewards out there fer it! Why shouldn’t we be believin’ it, huh?” Mr. Christens shrugged and changed the subject, not wanting to get into a heated disputation with his short fused and hammy wife. “Seems to me dinner should be a-cookin’, what with the sun goin’ down and all. Sure would like ta have some of yer biscuits and gravy ’bout now wit’ some of dat sweets potato pie.” He smirked as Dorie slapped his shoulder, but she went on back inside with him to begin the dinner preparations, leaving Onamara behind with her thoughts.

Dorie told Onamara over dinner that night that the visitor from earlier that night that claimed he’d known her mother wished to meet Onamara the next day.

“Did he say where?”, Onamara asked as she licked sweet potato from the corner of her bottom lip.

“Why yes he did. He tol’ me ta tell you he’ll meet ya out by the Souse River. Ya know, that river out there where the church baptize folks?”

“Yes, I know the one.” Onamara pushed her plate away. “Thank you for dinner, Mr and Mrs. Christens-”

“Dorie, honey, call me Dorie.”

Onamara smiled. “Thank you, Dorie. But I think I’ll head to bed now.” Onamara stood and took her plate to the sink. As she rinsed her dish and her utensils she remembered that Dorie hadn’t given her a time to meet the man. “Dorie, by the way, I almost forgot to ask what time.”

“Hm”, said Dorie. “Think he said ’round noon. Ya know how my memory is..”

Mr. Christens huffed.

“Did he happen to tell you his name,Dorie?”

“Thinks he tol’ me his name was Peter.Or maybe it was Parker.”

“Coulda been Bubba,” interjected Mr. Christens.  “Heavens no, you ol’ fossil, ain’t no doctor named Bubba. Nots nowhere in the world gun be no Bubba doctor!”

“How you know, ya ol’ moth-eaten bat! Ya can’t even ‘member!”

“That’s okay,”said Onamara with a happy and airy countenance. “It doesn’t matter. And I’m sure no one else will be out that way since it’ll be a Friday. No one goes out to the river banks unless it’s a Sunday and there’s a baptism.”

Dorie nodded. “That’s that then.”

“Goodnight,” Onamara said to them as she  headed out the door to the small private cottage where she slept every night.

“Goodnight dear,”said Dorie.

“G’night meathead,”said Mr. Christens.  Dorie slapped him with her oven mitt.

The next day a little before noon, Onamara hopped on to her scooter (graciously custom-built and painted for her by the one and only Mr. Christens, with a little help from a friend of his who worked at the auto repair shop) and made her way to the banks of the Souse River. Her heart felt like it might leap from her chest, so excited she was to hear what this doctor would say.

It wasn’t hard at all to find him. She’d been right-no one was there but one man, standing under the shade of a large tree. She made her way over to him with only a small bit of hesitance.

“Hi. I’m Onamara.” She reached her hand out to shake his, but he didn’t accept it. Instead, he placed a hand on his hip and cocked his head at her. “For someone who lives in the country on a ranch, you sure as hell do not dress appropriately.” Onamara laughed, though she felt immensely uncomfortable. “Actually, this is my best, well my only, dress. I only wanted to make a nice impression is all.” The man’s face softened. “Nothing wrong with that, I suppose.” Onamara didn’t want to appear rude, but she was dying to hound him with questions. She forced herself to be patient. The man looked her up and down slowly, casually, before finally speaking.

“I knew your mother, Onamara. We were very good friends in college. That is, until she moved in with that Zefania fellow. After that, we lost touch. But if what I hear is correct, I probably know more about your mother than you.” Onamara nodded. “I’m sure that’s true. I never knew my mother. She died when I was very young, and I was…adopted…shortly after.”

“I’ll tell you what I can do. You can come with me to my home, and you and I can sit down and talk in comfort. How does that sound?”

Onamara wasn’t the shy type, but she felt a small amount of timidness make its presence known at his words. However, Onamara desperately longed to know more about her mother. If this man could provide her with valuable information, how could she just turn and walk away?

“Okay.”

Onamara and the doctor, who called himself Pierce Waywater, were soon cozily sitting beside a fire in his elaborate estate. Everything Pierce owned was luxurious. The couches and curtains were in the same shades of scarlet red, and everywhere was velvet, thick lace, and rich silk.

He’d poured them both a tall glass of brandy, but mixed it with nothing. Onamara let the strong liquid burn its way down her throat to the pit of her belly and found that she rather liked it.

“You know, you look so much like her yet so different. Your mother had been so admirable and charming. Bewitching, really. I’d always thought it was such a shame that she’d bothered with the likes of Zef, but she’d had an unhealthy infatuation with him from the start.” Pierce sipped his brandy loudly and then went on, his eyes not on Onamara but on the flames emitted from the fireplace’s charring logs. “While she’d been head over heels for Zefania, I’d been trying to convince myself that my desire for her would someday pass…..” Onamara looked up, fascinated by this new bit of information from him. His eyes did not meet hers, though. He continued to stare at the fire, almost as if he was looking through it, past it…. “I proposed to her. I’m sure you didn’t have any clue about that. Well, why would you.” He laughed bitterly. “No reason for her to ever bring something like that up..” Onamara interrupted by saying, “Well, like I said, she died when-” “Yes, I proposed,”he went on, cutting off Onamara’s sentence. “She told me no. Didn’t even try to let me down softly. Just flat-out no. She said she had feelings for someone else and it wouldn’t be fair to pretend there was something between us when there wasn’t. Of course, she meant Zefania. I was stunned to tears when I heard her daughter was wandering about Sunset Valley looking for her mother’s friends and relatives.  I suppose Zefania is your father?” Now he did look at her. She nodded. “Yes.” “Figures,”said Pierce with a sigh.

Time ticked away. The two sat in quietude, gazing into the fire, each troubled by their own separate thoughts.

At long last, Pierce hefted himself into a straighter sitting position and turned his face to see Onamara clearly.

“You know, I believe that I may have some things that belonged to your mother. There could be something that could help you. It’s all in my cellar. Would you like to go and see?”

“Um..well..it’s getting late..”

“Nonsense, it will only take a moment.”

“Okay then.”

Onamara followed as Pierce led her to the lowermost portion of his home wholly below ground level. As they walked, Pierce talked to Onamara.

“I use the cellar to mostly store my wines, but I also have a maid that keeps up a portion of it as a root cellar. It’s very interesting, indeed. In fact, I’ve had many a museum collector and townsman ask to be allowed the opportunity to explore it. This estate was built atop a historical landmark of sorts. At least, it was one until the town was recreated by the new mayor. There’s many rooms below that not even I have set foot into. Most are locked anyway, or have strange keyholes that no key I’ve ever seen could ever fit into….Ah, here we are, right this way.”

“Is there no light you can switch on down here?”, Onamara asked.

“There’s a few candles and some old torches. Some work, some don’t. I prefer the candles. It’s best that the cellar is always at a controlled cool temperature, and I find that too much artificial light produces in turn too much heat.”

Pierce lit a candle, but Onamara couldn’t tell where he’d produced neither it nor the matches from.

“It’s also necessary that the cellar has high humidity,” Pierce jabbered on as he led her deeper into the cellar.

Eventually they came across racks stacked high atop one another. “That’s just a small taste of my wine collection.”   “Why are all the bottles kept on their sides that way?”, Onamara asked him. “It keeps the corks from drying out”, he answered her.

After much time spent walking endlessly, Onamara asked,”How much further?”  “Actually, right around this corner. That’s where I keep all my old things.”

She entered a door that Pierce pointed to. Pierce shoved her the candle and before she could blink he’d slammed the door in her face. It took Onamara a moment to understand just what exactly had occurred as she heard locks sliding into place from the other side.

Instantly filled with panic and dread, Onamara began to pound on the door, but she hadn’t realized before that this was no ordinary door. It appeared seamless and was made out of brick! Blood poured down her palm and wrist and Onamara let out a wail.

The heavy thumps of Pierce’s thick-soled shoes echoed as he walked away.

She felt helpless. Helpless and foolish.

Onamara set the candle Pierce had handed her on the stone floor and forced her eyes to adjust to the dimness.

There were no other doors.

There was no way out.

Onamara wanted to cry, but she refused to sink into despair.

She began to run her fingers along the walls of her small prison.

There, on the wall…She’d felt it, she was sure of it. There was something there!

Onamara pressed her palm firmly and felt the wall budge!

Firmer still…

And suddenly the wall was tumbling down, cascades of bricks all around her.

Her last coherent thought was, “I found a way out! I found it!”

Then Onamara’s world became a hole of pitch black as the bricks rained down on her like hail…

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One Response to “Chapter 6:On A Wild Hunt Note:Four Years Later”

  1. Oooh, super!
    I thought he was a bit of a weirdo. And for her to follow this stranger to his house…What a great twist!

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